Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The School Reform Fraud

"To borrow from the old quip on giving up smoking: Fixing public schools is easy--we've done it hundreds of times. ... For the past 25 years, K-12 education has been at or near the top of most politicians' domestic agendas. ... There is no shortage of strategies for education reform, either. ... Conservatives generally advocate breaking up teacher unions and privatization, while liberals call for more money, less testing and greater teacher autonomy. But nothing has succeeded. In 2006, experts at the Harvard-based Public Education Leadership Project concluded that all these efforts, including NCLB, 'have failed to produce a single high-performing urban school system.' ... Sure, teaching can be an art. But educators should also approach their profession as a science when empirical evidence proves certain methods to be more effective than others. ... But really, why should a passing math score vary from one district to another? Because of NCLB's loopholes, many states have dumbed down their tests to make their schools look better than they are. ... US education officials need to use federal funding to reward districts that raise standards and help put American schools on a par with their international competitiors", my emphasis, Kalman Hettleman at the Houston Chronicle, 1 March 2009, link: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/6285974.html.

More educationalist nonsense. See my 1 and 18 September 2008 posts: http://skepticaltexascpa.blogspot.com/2008/09/dead-elephant-in-living-room.html.


Anonymous said...

I'm clueless IA...

But we sure do spend a lot of money on education... and what we got?

Not too much...

Tax breaks for homeschooling!

Printfaster said...

IA, cannot find the article. It comes up 404 not found.

Independent Accountant said...

Apparently the Chronicle removed the article. I found it at www.projo.com/opinion/editorials/content/CT_schools15_03-15-09_SACVPK2_v13.3e69367.html. Just put "Kalman Hettleman" in Google search and the post comes up titled, "Time to replace myths about public schools".

Printfaster said...

gone from ProJo too. Is this article poison?

I am going to go on a hunt for it.

Printfaster said...

Finally found the article.

Bottom line to me is that teaching needs to be privatized.

The current system has uncontrolled spending at the administrative and consulting levels. Too many teacher consultants. Too many bureaucrats. Teachers need management at the local level. Administrative support should be statewide and not district wide.

Finances should be district wide.

Problem is that teachers are generally not accountable for what their contributions are to performance. A teacher in a title one school would do well to increase performance year over year. A teacher in an affluent district doing nothing would have large gains year over year because of student motivation.

That makes teacher performance very hard to measure.

Currently there are too many programs that emphasize teacher meetings and training that do absolutely no good. What is needed is the ability to sort students by motivation. Those unmotivated need to be placed in the teaching equivalent of a garbage bin or boot camp where they are trained and not taught. The garbage bins exist today in some middle and high schools where miscreants are warehoused in large study halls.

One example of the misguidance provided by top down thinking is the adoption of totally unusable text book material, that also does not meet state standards by a local committee of math teachers for lower grades. The lower grades vary so much over the district that teachers need wide leeway to select texts appropriate to their student bodies. Teachers need to be able make selections from an array of choices to shape what they can teach and what students can be taught. Simply subject the teachers efforts to review. Forget the top down.

National standards do not work for many reasons. Cultural differences are a major reason, economic, and local needs also have great effect.

OK to measure on national standards. To try to teach on a national standard, no.

Democracy Lover said...

The American school system has always been caught between two competing priorities - educating our children and keeping our property taxes within reason. Most people would say we have failed to achieve either, but most of the talk about education reform is stuck safely inside the box.

So far, liberals tend to favor changes to the current system, most of which would cost money local districts do not have. Conservatives tend to favor privatized systems and charter schools which sap revenue and the better students from the public system, leaving it with the more difficult and expensive students and less money. That solution also moves us further toward a two-tiered educational system segregated by wealth.

I would urge us to consider two radical changes: eliminate the redundancy of locally controlled school systems with their duplication of effort and replication of bureaucracy, and shift the revenue source away from property tax to a more stable and less regressive form of taxation.

Printfaster says that "National standards do not work for many reasons. Cultural differences are a major reason, economic, and local needs." I fail to see how the teaching of English, Math, Science or History should differ based on regional culture or differences in economic well-being. Are there localities that don't need educated young people, or who really prefer to have their children educated less well than those of other localities? I don't see it.

If we established national curriculum standards, national textbook selection, national teaching standards, national standards for class size, facilities, etc., we could raise the educational level of our population dramatically in a very short time.